May 11, 2017

Bay Area book seller fights unconstitutional autograph law

By Bay Area book seller fights unconstitutional autograph law

Bill Petrocelli is the owner of the chain of small bookstores in California called Book Passage. His popular community businesses is being threatened by a law that requires the sale of autograph books come with a certificate of authenticity for the signature as well as a supporting documents of personal information from the owners of the books. Petrocelli is fighting this law with the help of Pacific Legal Foundation saying that the law violates the constitution’s freedom of speech by limiting the spread of information as well as an unnecessary violation of people’s privacy rights.

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Book Passage v. Becerra

In the wake of a First Amendment challenge by Bay Area book seller Bill Petrocelli and his renowned store, Book Passage, California has rescinded the state’s onerous “certificate of authenticity” requirement for the sale of autographed books. The regulation would have made it extremely risky, if not impossible, for stores to sell signed books or host author events.

Under the former law, sellers of any autographed good worth over $5—including books—were required to provide a Certificate of Authenticity that included details about the transaction and the personal information about buyers and previous owners. Any omission, or failing to maintain the records for seven years, resulted in outrageous fines. Following PLF’s lawsuit, the legislature passed AB 228, which exempts books from the mandates.

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